Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Poverty and the Occupation

In yesterday’s blog, I discussed the effect of the occupation on Diaspora Jewry. Today I want to consider another side effect of the occupation. Each of these arguments may not be conclusive, but when you add them up they indicate why it is so important to try to arrive at an agreement with the Palestinians.

Dollars, or rather shekels, are fungible. A dollar you spend on one project, you can’t spend on another. It is because of this reason that all assurances Israel gives to America that it will not use the 3 billion dollars of aid to establish new settlements are meaningless. There’s one budget, and if America gives 3 billion dollars to Israel there’s an additional 3 billion dollars to be spent elsewhere, including the settlements.

In the past year 100,000 Israelis joined the ranks of the poor, more than half of them children. The number of children living under the poverty line is 35.2 percent of all Israeli children, 1,630,500 children in all. The number of poor families increased to 20.6 percent of all families. (As an aside, poverty is highest in Jerusalem where 56 percent of the children and 42 percent of all the residents were poor.) All this happened despite the general improvement in the economy.

Defense Minister Peretz, can say again and again the increased demands of the military establishments will not come at the expense of the resources needed to alleviate poverty. His reassurances are not convincing. The military needs big bucks to replace equipment used in the war, to provide better training and preparation for IDF for the next war, for new reinforced tanks and much more. Israel cannot rest until it finds some method of neutralizing the Hezbollah missiles. The next generation will reach Tel-Aviv and Israel cannot allow that. There is no guarantee that in war, chemical and biological warheads will not be used. Which Prime Minister will be able to deny the IDF the funds needed to mount a successful defense? I think it’s safe to say that as long as the Israeli –Palestinian conflict goes on poverty will keep on increasing.

Suppose there was a mutual agreement to the Arab-Israeli conflict along the lines of Taba or the Saudi proposal such that there would be no more wars. Just suppose… what the Germans call a gedanken experiment. Israel would be in a position to significantly reduce its defense budget. It would also be able to shift the funds that are used to build the endless infrastructure of the West Bank to other areas. As a result of these savings, let’s imagine, poverty can be reduced by twenty percent. The price would be Arab sovereignty in East Jerusalem, a contiguous Arab state and the loss of the Golan, etc. My intuition is that the settlers would prefer to hold on to the territories rather than give them up and reduce poverty.

I say the settlers are idealistic, sincere and selfish. They care for no one but themselves. They don’t care about the effect of endless wars on Israeli society. They don’t care about the worldwide growth of anti-Semitism. They care about Chevron and Tapuach.

2 Comments:

At 3:56 PM, Blogger LitaLives said...

Yesterday you explained to us, why Israel should slit her wrists to keep Diaspora Jewry safe & comfy.

Today you explain to us why the settlers are the true cause of all misery in the world.

Israel gave Arafat half the West Bank & got a kick in the ass for her troubles. Israel then had to reoccupy the West Bank (let's not forget the massacre of Jenin).

Barak gave the Arabs every last inch of Lebanon & got six years
of terror, rockets and a full blown war (let's not forget resolution 1701, which now says we should "resolve" the Shaaba Farm issue -after declaring 6 years ago that Israel has pulled back to the blue line).

Sharon gave the Arabs the whole Gaza Strip & Israel got a non-stop barrage of Kassam rockets and an internationally patrolled border between Gaza & Egypt which has more arms flowing through it than the Syrian-Lebanon border. (Let's not forget that as a bonus, the world got a Hamas government. After all,everyone knew once we would start being "gentler" with them, gave them something to lose, the moderates would prevail).

I won't even start on Olmert who has a brain the size of a pea, the backbone of a worm and the integrity of a streetwalker.

You, however, who does not have a brain the size of a pea, are simply living in another world. You start your essay by saying "Imagine.......". I can image I can fly, I can imagine I'm a trolley car, I can imagine many things. I can't imagine - based on any historical evidence, to date - that the Arabs are ready for any reasonable compromise.

After you take this leap into NeverNeverLand, you than move on to the logical conclusion that if only the damned settlers would disappear, we could solve all of Israel's problems, all of Diapora Jewry's problems, etc.

You are being intellectually dishonest & I'm disappointed that you are willing to distort reality in order to prove your point.

 
At 4:28 PM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

I am assuming per Taba that 50-80% of the settlers will remain in place. It is a far cry from disappearing. At the end of the last round of negotiations, the contours of a Palestinian state were agreed within 10- 20%. It was also agreed that Jerusalem should be divided some way and that only token Palestinians should be allowed to return. 80-90% of the deal is done. My view is that the settlers and in turn Israel does not want to close because it wants to keep the territories and the Golan.All of this doesn’t preclude Hamas being a bunch of murderous fanatics. I agree everything broke down because of Arafat and the intafada.Israel and the Palestinians had the misfortune to have to deal with Yassir Arafat, who was gay, corrupt, a megalomaniac, and a horrible leader. The successor was a better guy, but Sharon undermined him from day one.We are now fighting Shi’ites and Palestinians. The latter have a grievance, the former are crazy. We should not be negotiating with Hezbollah or try to satisfy them. America should try to make a deal with Iran and we should make a deal with Syria. If we made a deal with Syria and allow Syria to control Lebanon, there will be no problem with Hezbollah.

I believe, since as you say I live in NeverNever land, that you are a courteous and sweet man. You insulted me gratuitously out of love for the Jewish people and the State of Israel. I want to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a chasima vechativa tovah.

 

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